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Vater, Anke; Maierl, Johann (25. July 2018): Topographical anatomy and blood supply of the intestines of alpacas (Vicugna pacos). 32nd Congress of the European Association of Veterinary Anatomists, 25. - 28. Juli 2018, Hannover, Germany.
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Abstract

Introduction: The digestive tract of alpacas (Vicugna pacos) is adapted very efficiently to their habitat at high altitudes. Alpacas, similarly to ruminants, feed on hardly digestible forage. It has been demonstrated, however, that the anatomy of the camelids’ gastrointestinal tract developed independently of that of ruminants and they are not homologous. Despite long-term domestication and increasing numbers of individuals worldwide, little is known about the intestinal anatomy of alpacas. The objective of this study was to examine the anatomical features of the alpacas’ gut and to discuss anatomical peculiarities relating to evolutionary morphology and function. Another purpose of this study was to demonstrate weak points of the intestinal anatomy predisposing alpacas to certain clinical conditions. Materials and Methods: Six animals were used for dissection. They were euthanized for different medical reasons, none of which affected the digestive tract or other inner organs. The arterial blood vessels were injected with latex milk in order to visualise the blood supply more clearly. Results: The basic morphology of the intestinal tract was comparable to that in ruminants. However, a number of specific characteristics were found in alpacas, e.g. the duodenal ampulla and the proximal and distal loop of the ascending colon. Unlike with ruminants, the mesentery of the jejunum and ileum was largely separated from the ascending mesocolon in alpacas. The cranial and caudal mesenteric artery provided the main blood supply. Certain lymph nodes could be found along the branches of the aforementioned arterial vessels. Conclusion: The spiral colon seemed to be of major importance for water resorption and intestinal digestion. Due to the size of the distal fermentation chamber, it can be assumed that alpacas are a species that practice fractionated fermentation in the proximal and distal fermentation chambers.